Marine Park, Brooklyn: Pizzeria Del Corso

"I mean, sure, Colt Seavers could drive the hell out of that truck, but do you think he was actually the one fixing busted axles?"

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Two Fridays ago. Ed here is like, "Adam, have you heard of this place Pizzeria Del Corso? I saw it mentioned in a story in the Daily News last week about pizza-tossing. The pizza-tossing didn't catch my eye, but the pizzeria did."

I guess I had seen that story but had only focused on the Dom DeMarco angle. (Yeah, you know me, right?)

And who can blame me? The rest of it was about pizza-tossing. Whatevs.

Don't get me wrong. The folks who toss pizza competitively are good people. But once you've seen video after video of it, it's easy to lose interest.

And, you know, I don't really care how you've formed the dough into a round. As long as the end product is awesome, you could use a toss, a stretch, a rolling pin, or a bowling ball. (I will concede that those last two techniques are not ideal.)

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Also blocking the Del Corso uptake on my part was the fact that the two guys who opened it—Nino Coniglio and Ryan LaRose—are part of the U.S. Pizza Team.

You see, the pizza-tossing thing and the serious-pizza-making thing have never seemed to go hand in hand.

20090324-fallguy.jpgI mean, sure, Colt Seavers could drive the hell out of that truck, but do you think he was actually the one fixing busted axles after jumping an open drawbridge?*

My pizza heroes have always been the unassuming types with their heads (and hands) down, concentrating on making great pizza rather than putting on showy stunts for an action-craving audience.

But Ed was being a nudge about Del Corso, so we made plans to visit and ended up out there last Thursday. Turns out that being a dough-thrower doesn't necessarily make you a tosser. This pizza was good.

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Pizzeria Del Corso is at its heart a true Brooklyn pizzeria, with a pair of owners who care deeply about the product, making it with quality ingredients (Grandé aged mozzarella; tomatoes imported from San Marzano, Italy, that they crush by hand; and fresh mozz made in-house for the special pies), and editing down their menu to cover just the basics. You won't find craziness here, just some great regular pies and slices and some well-executed specials, like the Margherita (my favorite; uses the house-made fresh mozzarella) and the Sophia Loren (fresh garlic, thinly sliced tomatoes, fresh mozz).

You will find some good non-pizza food there. To digress just a bit, we tried a ravioli made in-house that was quite good, with the shells cooked perfectly al dente, bathed in a creamy sauce. The garlic knots and pinwheels were a nice touch, too.

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A Margherita slice and a slice of Sophia Loren.

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What Ed Said

I asked Ed for his two cents:
"A fine example of a Brooklyn slice. It actually supported the mythology surrounding the Brooklyn slice. I liked the fact that it was true to itself, that it wasn't trying to imitate Dom even though they look up to him as an inspiration (I loved the fact that LaRose had never been to Di Fara), and that they took such pride in their pizza and the products they insist on using."

The crust is crisp, very thin, and light. And while I Mr. Magooed this upskirt (some dude kept hawking around me while I was taking photos, throwing me off my shutterbug game), you get the point—they get some nice char using only a standard gas oven like you'd find in most of the hundreds of other Brooklyn pizzerias out there.

Granted, both Ed and I thought the crust could have used a little more salt, but you don't really notice that until you get to the end crust and are eating bread alone.

Slices here are nicely balanced, especially the Margherita, which benefits from the addition of a little fresh basil.

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Grandma slices were good as well, but I think they're bested by the round pies.

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Pizzeria Del Corso

3003 Avenue U, Brooklyn NY (at Batchelder Street; map)
The Skinny: Great pizza—thin crust, nice balance. Mozzarella made fresh in-house. Bonus: They might put on a pizza-tossing show for you
Pizza Style: Straight-up New York/Brooklyn and proud of it
Oven Type: Standard gas-fired deck ovens
Price: Plain slices, $2; pepperoni and white slices, $2.50; specials, $3; grandmas, $$2.75

Especially interesting was the fact that co-owner Ryan LaRose had only recently moved to Brooklyn, from Orlando, Florida, after having met Nino Coniglio on the pizza-tossing circuit. And while dyed-in-the-wool Brooklynites might scoff at LaRose's provenance, let it be known that he is more Brooklyn than a lot of people I know. The guy hasn't visited Manhattan once since he's lived here (he makes his home in Marine Park), and the only time he's been to the Isle of Manhattan was during a prior visit to the city for a pizza-tossing gig on Good Morning America.

(I do think he needs to explore Brooklyn a bit more, though—he was up on his Di Fara lore but hadn't been yet; nor had he been to some of the other Brooklyn pizzerias held in high esteem by pizza geeks).

The question I anticipate from non-Brooklynites is whether it's worth the trek out to Marine Park. (For the carless, it involves a Q train ride followed by B3 bus ride down Avenue U.) I'd say give them some more time, let them put a little more salt in that crust, and then try it. These guys are striving to make something special. I think they're well on their way to getting there. It's a pizzeria to watch; put it on your radar.

And, if you go, you might be treated to a bit of a dough-tossing show. The stunts actually are more fun to watch in person than in YouTube videos. These guys can Tarzan from a vine and make good pizza.

Video: Nino Coniglio Throws Dough

Video: Ryan LaRose Throws Dough

*Perhaps a better metaphor would have been Bo and Luke driving the hell out of the General Lee but then taking it to Cooter for repair. But that was too obvious. (As was Michael driving KITT into the back of the tractor-trailer for Bonnie to fix.)

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